Fresno Fulton Mall / Street September 2017 Construction Photo Tour

This is a comprehensive look at the Fulton Mall (future Fulton Street) in Fresno, 2 months before construction is scheduled to end. Fresno is spending around $20 million to eliminate a pedestrian mall and re-open it to vehicles and vehicular parking. The intention behind it is to bring economic vitality to the corridor.

My last update was in January. Back then, we were told construction would end in May 2017, a delay from the original date of November 2016.

Previous posts
January 2017
May 2016
August 2015 (construction diagrams) 

I was looking forward to this walk, hoping things would be looking up after a year of damaging construction. Sadly, the corridor looked the worst that I have ever seen. Most businesses were closed, many permanently.

I saw maybe 8 people, total. I always take my photos on weekend afternoons, so I am comparing directly between my previous visits, and I have never seen it this dead. Even when the prison-style fencing was up last year, there were more people.

Note that in the days since I took these photos, there have been a few changes: benches were added, some of the artwork was uncovered, and some of the vehicular barriers were removed.


Again, this is a very comprehensive look, so click ahead to load a ton of photos.

As with all the previous updates, we start at the parking lot by the IRS building (Merced Street). Also as with the previous updates, photos are from a Saturday.

Merced Street

At the new Merced Street, construction unceremoniously ends at the existing alley. Curious about the ADA statute here, since the sidewalk just ends in a roadway, shouldn’t there be the truncated domes to guide the blind?


Drivers will be forced to navigate this beautiful alley.



Pretty ridiculous sign. “Cross traffic does not stop”. It’s a 15mph alley, not a highway.


The “extra wide” sidewalks to get quite narrow here


This is poor planning.


An entire two parking spots were carved out. Plantings are already in, which is nice.


The vegetation looks nice. Hopefully, it is maintained.



Merced Street to Tuolumne Street 

We take a quick detour north one block.

Looking south.


Looking across to the rest of Merced Street


Any plans to bring back the entrance here?




Still looks like a dump.


One of the nice river fountains. Very pretty, but does limit walking space. (I believe this fountain was opened on September 19).


They didn’t do much with the abandoned street here. Not even a line of trees.


This is really the best they could do?


On one hand, it is fantastic to see these buttons placed for maximum convenience. On the other hand, do we really need buttons?


The large sidewalk bumpout in front of the theater. Just wish it was a wee bit longer.


They took a huge chomp out of the road space here.


Looking to the (finally) reopened bridge. That’s the High Speed Rail project though. I like the traffic signal they used.



They could get angled parking here now, unsure if that is the eventual plan.


Looking down the street


The other side of that abandoned street.


Not project related, but they’ve been doing stuff here for awhile now…anyone know what exactly?


Also not project related, but they’re redoing the walkway between the IRS and Hotel Fresno.


The path was already there, but it looks wider now.


Still just sort of ends.


I assume it was a road before the IRS


Merced Street to Fresno Street

Ok, so we jump back to where we started, at Merced Street, and move south.

What used to be Peeves Pub, which was Fresno Brewing Company, which was Come And Get It Chicken and Waffles, which was…. I don’t remember that far back.

Now it is:


Pre-construction, supporters of this project raved about how the new design would allow for great outdoor seating. Let’s compare.

The Old Fulton Mall

The New Fulton Street



Am I crazy for having no interest in sitting on that narrow sidewalk, next to a lifted pickup truck?

Parsley Cafe was recently featured in a Fresno Bee article. 

The long lines at Parsley Garden Cafe are long gone. Since March 2016, when the bulldozers and jackhammers started tearing up the mall to prepare for the reopening of Fulton Street, business has dropped nearly 70 percent, Partida says.

For months, potentia customers had to negotiate a maze of fences and construction noise in order to reach the place.Most didn’t bother. 

“Nobody come,” Partida sighs. “Nobody wanted to deal with all these things. We even opened the back door and nobody come.”


The difference the old tree makes is notable. Ridiculous that they couldn’t preserve more.



The planting area at the corner looks nice. Again, I hope it is maintained.


Unfortunately… They had good food.


Believing only gets you so far.



Making our way down, we come across a consistent failure that the City of Fresno failed to address.

How does a pedestrian cross the street?



How is one expected to reach the next block of businesses?




The traffic signal works (blinking red), but the crosswalk is blocked in every direction.



We finally make it across, by crossing illegally and unsafely. (Note the guy trying to make it in)


Fresno Street to Mariposa Mall

This block is still a mess.


At least these trees were given enough dirt.



One of the few stores that have made it through construction. It is a chain.





Sktechy detour.



Payless did not make it (although to be fair, the whole company is in trouble).


Mariposa Street to Tulare Street 

This is about year 10 of the very gradual refurbishment of this building. More lofts going in.


Hooray, parking, I can feel the vitality


Woops, dead end due to the underpass. Have fun in that alley bro. Nothing says “come shop here” like an alley.


North Fresno will love it in here.


This part did not change.


Photos of the reconstructed bus station will come in a BRT update.

So turning back to the maze, I mean mall….




I believe those are people 4 and 5 I saw today.


Nice to see this come back. Will it have benches?

Because I have seen zero benches.


This restaurant has remained in business fortunately.


Here, some, but not all of the crosswalks were open.



Looking north.


Always a classic.


Walking north on this side of the block, we’ll get back to the southern block in a bit.



These next guys were just featured in a Fresno Bee article, today!

The ice cream freezer at Casa Latina hasn’t been restocked in weeks. Nor is it stationed near the front door, where the selection of frozen, flavorful treats is more accessible to Jesus Diaz’s customers. 

Why not? No need. Since April 2016, when construction crews started tearing up the old mall, they stopped coming. 

“I used to fill this thing up once a week,” Diaz laments, nodding toward the freezer. “Now it’s been three weeks and it still has a lot of ice cream.”

Before construction, business was steady. A slow day would still put $600 to $700 in the cash register.


“Sometimes I make $150 per day,” Diaz says. “For this place, that’s not good. Look around. There’s nobody here.”

The only people inside the store, besides Diaz and myself, are his wife and daughter. He had to let two part-time employees go because he didn’t have money to pay them. Nor does he have the money to pay an $1,800 PG&E bill that’s two months’ overdue. But he must find a way, because the utility company recently sent a seven-day notice.

Indeed, the owner seemed very happy to see us come in, although we were only there for drinks. It’s a great place to stop, because they’re open past 4pm.


They lost a lot of sidewalk space too. This is what they have now:


And what they used to have:

Super narrow up here



Now back to the main “square” (Mariposa) where a little stage is set up.



These folks aren’t able to roam anymore.The Fresno Bee article above says apparently the city hasn’t even decided if they’ll still be allowed. Wow.



Back at Payless.


Only way back is the other side of the street. I guess the corner cafe here went out of business as well? They were open for like a week.


The side with trees looks nicer.



Now we look at the one remaining portion of Mariposa Street

Looking towards the mall. This bumpout with trees is new and much appreciated.


Sadly, one didn’t make it. Apparently, planting trees in August is a bad idea. Who could have guessed?


Looking up Broadway


And to Fulton


This is still shameful.



Person 6?


Pretty obvious where the project boundary is


Tulare to Kern 

Ok, back on Fulton, looking north



And looking south


Get rid of the parking and you have a sweet area for trees


Not sure what this is.


This area is pretty boring


Mystery fountain! (It may have since been uncovered)



I like this


Looking north



Kern Street to Inyo Street

At this corner we get to the one and only section of the mall that was preserved





Not a 100% pedestrian mall, as the alley cuts through


An odd choice, but ok


They left the ugly street light


Looking away from the stadium


Moving back towards Fulton, art peeping out


Sidewalk overhang


Across the street



Super effective sign.




Hey guys come park at the new Fulton Street!


Uh, neither elevator works, but the stairs are open!


I typically go up to get some shots, but I passed.

This absolutely baffles me.


Looking north


Supposedly, once the street construction ends, this lot will see an exciting new building. Hopefully.



Almost at the end.


A new bumpout and living proof that adding cars guarantees lively business….oh



And at the very end of the project, looking north.



And that’s it for Fulton!

Good to see the brewery + beer garden doing well, even on a hot day.



And if you drive and park, watch the curb across the street. It is very high, so your car will hit it. Need a lifted white pickup I guess.


Next posts will be BRT construction and High Speed rail!

33 Replies to “Fresno Fulton Mall / Street September 2017 Construction Photo Tour”

  1. Excellent read, agree with alot of your assessment James. As you know Im a BIG advocate of accent lighting. And all those trees that they put in, they need a light embedded in the ground near the tree base that shines up the trunk and tree to make it pleasing to the eye at night. Also those old dilapidated buildings with the old school overhang needs to be cut off. Some of your pics show the new light post just in front of the overhang…but the light from the light post will not light up the sidewalk directly under the overhang because the overhang is going to block the light thus leaving the sidewalk under the overhang DARK. The only way to light up the sidewalk is to literally put lights on the undercarriage of the overhang that shines directly on the sidewalk. Do you follow what I'm describing???

    1. YES! That always looks great, when the light is shining up into the leaves!

      I also noticed that they did not pay attention to the overhangs. However, the lights didnt turn on when I was there so I didnt see it when it was fully dark

    2. Yes. I haven't been out there when it was dark yet so IDK how the light will affect it. Its just my common sense that tells me that the tall light isn't going to shine into the overhang well enough. But I could be wrong. maybe they'll be enough refractory light to suffice. Another thing is all the wayfinding signs and fult st upgrades are all nice looking because they're all bright and shiny because its new. But the city has to remember that maintenance and upkeep is just as important. Can't let the shit go into ruins.

  2. Eww, 4000k LED lighting. Looks quite overbearing. Taking inspiration from the Japanese, 2700k lighting.

    Even a video. It starts to get good at about 20 minutes in.

    With their experience, LA Bureau of Streetlighting won't even look at 4000k LEDs anymore. Their standards call for 3000k warm white exclusively for all new installs. Fresno being a step behind is naturally just par for the course.

    1. I'm not sure I understand the lighting terminology. I thouroughlt enjoyed your knowledge of lighting and design on a precious Stop and Move article last yr. but what do you mean by 4K warm white or 3k warm white? Which is better? I just like a brightly lit street. Oh and another thing, is it just me or does it seem like the led lstreetlights in Fresno aren't bright enough??

    2. 4000 kelvin and 3000 kelvin are in relation to color temperature. Imagine a bar of steel, we heat that until it gets red. Then we continue to heat it until it gets yellow. Then we keep hearing it until it turns white and eventually blue. That is color temperature, a measurement of the color of a light source in the scientific degrees kelvin. To illustrate.

      The sun, or sky,actually varies it's color temperature throughout the day to us on earth. All the way down from 2500k to 3000k on those beautiful mornings all the way up to 6000k on an overcast day. It helps to dispel the bold false claims of 5000k rated LED or HID light being more "natural."

    3. To that end 3000k vs 4000k rated LED light, with the research we have so far 3000k is certainly the superior color temperature. It mitigates the harmful blue spike in LED lighting thus helping to reduce discomfort glare, decrease adaptation times, and protect sleep cycles.

    4. What are your thoughts on the lighting being seasonal?

      One of the great aspects of LED is that the brightness and color can be programmed to change. So a common design for a park (for example), is max brightness at 7pm, and minimal brightness at 3am.

      Your first image with the trees reminds me of Christmas. We associate yellow lights on trees with Christmas due to the candles that used to be placed. That color would work great with holiday ornaments and such.

      But for, say, a beer event related to a Grizzlies game, the harsh white light might work best.

    5. I can certainly see adaptive systems that adjust color temperature throughout the day and night being used. They are experimenting with those systems, and there has been some success seen in an experiment done in a retirement home where the LED lamps shifted CCT from cool to warm into the night. But, so far, there exist no mass produced fixtures for streetlighting that do this. So given current technologies, it would be most cost effective and prudent to simply stick with the 2700-3200k LED fixtures. Reduce the maintenance burden as those types of adaptive fixtures would be highly experimental at best and I would imagine have higher unit cost to.

    6. But changing the color of light at night from 3000k-4000k and above will yield little to no positive benefits. On top of that, 4000k and above just isn't well received by communities. The Christmas lights detract, unfortunately, a bit from the qualities of the streetlighting install in Marunouchi, hence the video without the Christmas lights.

  3. Those florescent overhangs probably date back to the architectural mistake of en era, the 1960's. They could go away, as could many of those beige boxes, looks at old Payless store. The boarded up building next to it, though,is worth saving. It would be really nice if they went for classic 20's and 30's style architecture, the 50's, 60's, and 70's were just a massive series of cultural blunders.

    Probably also should mention, the street lights in Marunouchi, the place in that Tokyo vid, have pedestrian scale street lights that actually sit below the tree canopies. More nice pics of their install. Lights are pedestrian scale warm white. It's important to to not mix color temperature with brightness as these two are totally independent elements of a streetlighting system.

  4. those lights on fulton–ive never been myself since it opened–look to be LED daylight 5000K. 4000K is def warmer than shown in the link above. led daylight 5000k seems to have been taking over street lights in the bay area possibly in fresno too?
    i personally like it, gives it more of a modern feel/vibe. this is always an argument even for home lighting when purchasing led bulbs. it will go on and on. but i like the 5000K daylight look

    1. Really, I, and many others, get the feeling that I'm in a morgue rather then a residence. It easily is more dependent on efficiency of execution with all the knowledge we know. To that end 5000k rated light really belongs nowhere people are at night, including houses given the negative pronounced effects to our day night sleep cycles, sleep deprivation related illnesses and obesity to name a few, and the fact that under light adapted conditions the human eye is more sensitive to light sources of lower relative CCT, that is 3500k and below. We ultimately see better under 3500k rated light and below when light adapted. Furthermore, the California Lighting Technical Center at UC Davis, the group that help to fix the City of Davis, recommends used light be no higher then 3500k in their plans with an absolute max of 4000k.

  5. 4000 kelvin is certainly not what the industry or experts would call "warm." 5000 kelvin rated light has a noticable blue-ish tinge when used in streetlighting. 5000k really isn't taking over the Bay Area, SF recently announced their conversion commencing, after years of experimenting with some very blue-rich fixtures, they will be going with the 3000k warm white for their citywide conversion.

    "SFPUC says the new lights will operated with “a color temperature of 3,000 Kelvin” and “will emit warm, white light” instead of the yellowish sodium glow of existing lamps."

  6. Color temperature really isn't a measurement of a light source's "strength" per se. It's measurement of color, not brightness. Lumens is a measurement of the total power or brightness of a light source. So to that end "warmer" colored light is not inherently "dimmer" light.

    1. Smh. I'm
      Just as confused about it as when I read your initial comment on lighting in the previous article. I just feel like the led streetlights are way too dim. They don't light the intersection or the street or sidewalk well. But when I go to other cities there led lights appear MUCH brighter. Why is that? Is there a setting that they set it too? Idk if I'm a fan of the warm light BecUse I feel like it's going to be dimmer in a sense. And another thing, those led lights along shepherd between Willow and minewwawa are a joke because the led light is above the tree line so the sidewalk and street is ABSOLUTELY DARK! They need a light pole with the elevated led light and another shorter light coming off the same pile at pedestrian sidewalk level. Similar to the light poles on Hollywood Blvd.

    2. The LED other cities, like LA, use appear brighter because they use more power and put out more lumens. LA BSL and Tucson would be using 9,000-10,000 lumen fixtures where Fresno uses 3,000 lumen fixtures. Under-lit by a factor of three. Now there are different contexts, such as residential where the gap is not stark.

      That sounds like a dual lighting system. Would be nice, but the city has to fix the other issues with output and color temperature first for something like that to be effective.

    3. OOHHHH OK, so the brightness is more related to the 'output' 'watt's or 'lumens' and the kelvin pertains more towards the color or the 'glow? This is starting to make more sense. But related to Fresno this is one of the reasons why I believe there are so many it and runs. Is because the streets aren't lit enough. Or maybe they need to have decreased spacing between light poles. IDK, but something needs to be done.

    4. Jeffrey, the confusion is that for non-led lights, the brighter the light, the more white. So if you have an incandescent and you have it on a dimmer, the low setting is reddish because the filament is physically colder. You turn up the brightness, the bulb gets physically hotter, and the light is yellow and then white. Halogen bulbs burn hotter, so theyre whiter. It is even more confusing because people call yellow "warm" and white "cool," when it is the opposite when we are talking about the actual temperature of the bulb!

      LEDs you can program to show any color at any brightness level, and the physical temperature of the bulb doesn't change. So green vs red vs white vs yellow doesnt affect your brightness at all.

      To add to the confusion, bulbs used to be sold based on "watts" which is how much power they use, and we just associated it with more power = more light.

      So for modern lighting, when you buy a bulb, you have two choices:
      Brightness, which is in lumens (or lux, or footcandles for technical stuff)
      Color, which is in kelvin, on the red-yellow-white-blue scale

      And then throw in "party" colors like green or purple.

    5. Great explanation! I was going to use an analogy to a dying incandescent flashlight, but that works better. Now that I'm going around more and more talking to people about it, this seems to be a somewhat common misconception that blue-ish white equals bright while yellow-ish white equals dim. I partly blame marketers for selling 5000k lamps as being so called "bright white." There no such thing. It's just some highly subjective claim from someone in marketing. They don't have to tell the whole truth.

    6. I don't mean to be too much of a Debby Downer, but cars have federally complaint headlights that have some fairly great capabilities. Not trying to be too sarcastic, but headlighting has grown by leaps and bounds since the 30s when streetlighting would've been more warranted. Now those that install HID/LED kits in their halogen assemblies, they are running around dangerously blind and in violation of federal safety standards.

    7. But that being said properly installed streetlighting does have safety benefits when used prudently, low glare low color temperature fixtures that send light to where it's needed. Focusing on highlighting the conflict/merge points is a good start.

      It just happens that one of the greatest beneficiaries of fixed streetlighting is the pedestrian as they do not have their own lighting system. Sorry to sound a bit of a geek.

  7. In Fresno, it isn't just you. The lights maintained by Fresno really are underpowered. They don't put out enough lumens. All the city did was cut wattage and total fixture power and lumens in half, going from 70/150 watts of HPS to 35/75 of LED. They further claimed they had industry experts give them those numbers, but their claim is not at all congrious with other cities that hired experts. The intersections and streets were under-lit before. Now the efficiency of modern warm white LEDs can compensate some, but the city's original fixtures were/are so underpowered that if the city were to go about it the right way many large streets would remain about the same or slide backwards in energy usage. It is that bad! The LEDs would actually consume nearly the same and more power, in places, in spite of the added efficiency and what we know now because Fresno's streets are so under-lit. And don't get me started on optics and optical patterns,light not being on the sidewalk and all. I wouldn't even remotely expect a city that lacks understanding of basic physics, inverse square law anyone, to understand the difference between a Type II long and a Type III meduim.

    1. One reason Fresno sucks so much at this is because they dont hire experts. For a couple of years, they had one person who was city manager AND director of transportation AND director of parks. Doesnt matter how smart one guy is, he cant be expected to know about everything/

    2. To an extent, I'd argue that an informed citizen base can make a big impact of the qualities of streetlighting in their areas. Even obscure small town places like Lake Worth, Fl. and Northampton, Mass. that one wouldn't call massively wealthy municipalities have implemented fairly coherent and effective outdoor lighting installations. All the tools are there. I think it's following up with the city,or even better influencial community groups, at this point. All the tools and basics are there. Heck, Fresno could probably just copy LA BSL standards. Even those aren't too far out of reach for Fresno given the great efficiency of modern warm white LED installs.

    3. By the looks of it, LA BSL' s approved fixture list has been updated with fixtures that use less power, and it looks like the hit in power usage Fresno would take going to warm white LED of appropriate lower intensity might not be sliding backwards, at least not too much.

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